All-Star Weekend 2013, Day One: Indiana Everywhere
by Jeff Tzucker
February 16, 2013, 1:45 PM
For all that is All-Star Weekend, it is the first day that is perhaps filled with the most pomp, circumstance, and pageantry. The first day is Media Day and ends with a Celebrity game and the
Rookies vs Sophomores Rising Stars competition.
As this is my first All-Star Weekend experience, the sights are difficult to fully grasp. Everywhere you look, you're looking for someone and nearly every time you look to see if someone is someone, others are looking at you to see if you're someone. It's a little bizarre.
(Oh, how disappointed they would be when casting a glance my way.)
But, for all that happened today--sharing the same breathing space as current, former, and ever-more-former basketball legends--the most meaningful thing to happen was the first event of the day.
Roger Brown made it to the Hall.
As his name was called and his accomplishments recounted by the smooth-speaking NBA TV emcee/host, I found myself smiling. In many respects, the Hall announcement shouldn't mean all that much to me outside of the small corner of consciousness in which Roger Brown resides in my head. After all, I never saw the man play (and, by all accounts, he was The Man with all due respect to Stan Musial). And I've seen nary a highlight. There's something else there.
I found myself smiling for his family, for those that knew and loved him. His teammates, his friends, his first-hand fans. The validation, the joy they must feel after all this time knowing what they know only to have it ignored. To feel the relief in recognition has to be a release measured only in immeasurable joy.
Roger Brown's story is a heck of a thing to happen to anyone: Be arguably the best player New York City has ever produced only to be unceremoniously expelled from his one-way ticket to basketball stardom on trumped-up charges. Then, like a movie cliché, he found it all again only to never get his career formally recognized because the Hall of Fame process excluded those who played solely in the ABA. Then, to die a relatively-young death before hearing your name called. All the while knowing you were one of the best to ever play. It all must've felt like a phantom limb where you feel something you can't see or touch. Until now.
Validation, vindication. Roger Brown, Hall of Famer.
Great words to hear.
After a few more announcements and pronouncements by the smooth-speaking emcee to finish up the ceremony, we were off to the races. All of us.
At the expense of sounding like every hack writer who has ever gone to All-Star Weekend and recapped it, Media Day is probably just about everything you'd imagine it'd be, for better or worse. It's a crush of reporters, bloggers, tweeters, and googly-eyed believers all scouring for interviews with the biggest NBA stars of yesterday and today. You fight to keep up, get good interviews, and hope that mad scrum you're navigating doesn't cause an accident where a tunneled-visioned reporter gets a foot caught in your microphone cord and nearly rips everything violently from your hand.
Not that it happened to me today or anything.
The good news? Paul George seems ready for this. And by "this", I mean all of this. He appears relaxed, but energized—right where you'd want him to be. The moment isn't too big for him and he's not too big for the moment. A good sign.
Gerald Green seems ready to do something death-defying with his dunks tomorrow. He might just fail-whale Twitter if everything goes the way it potentially could.
Oh, and Tamika Catchings? She is everywhere here. Call me Mr. Obvious, but everyone loves Tamika. Everyone. Her opponents gush over her. ESPN's Stuart Scott called her a "Grade A Human". While it doesn't hurt that even in an All-Star Celebrity game, she was the top scorer and tied for the lead in rebounding, she's an even better person. We're a lucky city and state to have her among us.
With that, we wrap up a very Indiana day at All-Star Weekend. It all started with a big win for the Pacers in Roger Brown's Hall of Fame nod. On Saturday night, we'll look for more wins with Tamika in the Skills Competition, Paul George in the 3-Point Contest, and Green in the Sprite Slam-Dunk Challenge.
(And somewhere in there, I'll rest.)
Until then, my friends.